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May 14, 2007



Um, that last link isn't actually to PC's new writerly blog. The blog it does link to is marvellous and I like it, but it's definitely not Dr Cat unless I've got a lot of things about Dr Cat very wrong, such as what city she lives in.



david tiley

Michael Brindley is god, but in a "take no prisoners way".

He is a decent person through and through, who simply assumes that everyone engaged in the screen-writing endeavour wants to do well.

In the past, I have had a niche dealing with emerging screenwriters and directors and I tend to be pretty free-flowing about it, I think caused by the fact that my own education in film was based on the idea that we had to get the essence of the medium, and then follow its particular energy.

In documentary, where I do know what I am talking about, there is a huge difference between working on scripts with newbies, and with experts. I feel like I have died and gone to heaven.

The point of this ramble is to suggest that the methods at the beginning of a life in film are not the methods at the end. One simple example of this is the way most beginning filmmakers write a full script and then go back to the structure and write the treatment. They can't go the other way.

When I was teaching short film writing, it made perfect sense to challenge the class with treatments rather than scripts, in the order that experts do them. A lot of learning occurs from that collision.

But it is not easy - and the way it is not easy is different from the way writing a script as a sophisticated screen writer is not easy. If that makes sense. And I would then provide some real world methods that are about writing the script first, in contradiction to the taught methods..

The good teacher is inculcating methods that work in the long term, not those that lead to temporary advance. Because students need the experience of success for all sorts of reasons, there is an amount of double tracking.

The trick about telling stories to your friends is worth absolute gold. One very valuable personal and professional thing about that is that you are not precious about what you do. (sheesh.. there's an ugly sentence..)

Anyway... good luck. Don't sweat the end and let it come out of the characters. Give your characters a need to resolve an issue, to create a end for themselves.

Two people in a disintegrating relationship is one thing. Add to that one of them being sacked from a beloved job. Then, add the main character being determined to create a transformation - perhaps to find out for themselves if this can work or not. Power in moving forward.

Two really bad problems in rewriting: when you have a plot, any change ripples through and ruins a whole house of cards. When you have an ending, and the characters won't lead you to that end.

As in: these two people should end up happy together. But they really, really hate each other the more they know about each other.. so you have to go a) they hate each other.. b) it gets much worse the more they try and fix it.. c) they realise this is happening... d) they realise they must end the mess and then.....??? of course the problem is that we don't want to just join the dots to oblivion but need to do something interesting.

One great rule about the end: it should be consistent with what you actually believe about the world. In our example above, people actually do muddle through and find a way of loving each other. Love is not necessarily the centre of people's lives etc etc. Reality gives you a range of resolutions..

Also, I am talking about the internal psychological story. This is intertwined by the external narrative and the intersection between the two solves a lot of problems.

MB by the way is distinguising between plot and story. If you look at his notes, you will discover he is a very precise definer and user of terms, and realising exactly what he means will get you out of a lot of trouble. Every distinction he makes, he makes because he knows it is important in practical terms.

- d


Thanks for that, D--such a good comment, I'll print it out and file it. I think I'll leave the end for now; I've never written endings till I've gotten to them in the past.

You seem to have intuited my basic story-line quite well (perhaps because there's only a few stories in the world) -- and my dilemma: I have painted my characters into a corner.


Are you on all the film industry mailing lists? PFTC, AFC,encore etc? i'm only just discovering them all myself but i mention them because there often seem to be calls for scripts in various genres. *You* don't have to worry about all the money stuff - you just have to have a good script. (And from what I've seen, that doesn't look hard.)


Mikhela -- if you could forward me the mailing lists that would be great (

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